KTM Enduro Factory Racing go into the 2015 Word Championship season confident that they can maintain their dominant status in the classic Enduro disciplines and hunt down more world championship titles at the end of the seven round, 14-race competition.
The season kicks off April 18-19 with the first double-header round in Talca, in central Chile, some 250 km south of the capital of Santiago and will see multi world champion Christophe Nambotin again on the KTM 250 EXC-F chasing down another E1 title. The class has been safe in Orange hands since 2012, thanks to the efforts of the French duo Antoine Meo (2012-2013) and Nambotin 2014 and with Meo now again contesting the E2 class, expectations are high that Nambotin will continue his domination. Of the 14-race 2014 competition the French rider claimed 11 wins and three podium seconds, where each time he had to concede to his main rival Finland’s Eero Remes.
Nambotin goes into the season very fit and very confident, saying he would like to win both the French national tile and retain the E1 world title. “This year I want to go for everything. I want to win as many GPs as possible and my condition is perfect, in fact in past years it has never been better than it is now,” Nambotin said.
Meo to attack E2 Antoine Meo saw his 2014 season cut short after a nasty accident that injured his hand at the fourth round in Finland. Until that point Meo had taken four wins and 2 seconds in the six races and was on track for the title, which eventually went to his main rival and fellow Frenchman Pela Renet. But since then Meo has made an impressive return to the track and has shown outstanding winning form in early rounds of the Italian National Championship. The French rider is again a definite contender for the E2 title in 2015.
Meo: “After the half season in 2014, this year I want everything. I am back on track and I want to be the fastest at all the events! We’ve been working a lot with the bike and on the suspension. I really like my bike a lot and I’m ready not to leave any possibility open for my rivals. So watch out Salvini and Renet!” Meo is on the KTM 350 EXC-F and is a Red Bull athlete.
Double-barreled Orange approach to E3 big bore category
KTM Enduro Factory Racing once again tackles the E3 class with a potent mix of youth and experience with last year’s champion, Australian Matthew Phillips and Spain’s eternal warrior, Ivan Cervantes who finished second to his younger teammate. Both riders had six race wins and five seconds and wrapped up the season just nine points apart. Cervantes dominated the first half of the competition but the crunch came for him when he was also injured in Sweden. This allowed Phillips, who by then was gaining in confidence to grab the initiative. Both riders have the ability to take wins this year but Cervantes, aRed Bull athlete has had some injury problems that may slow his start to the season.
Matthew Phillips: “As we all expect and hope, to finish on the top podium is a realistic goal. I want to win the championship again this year and to take the best results possible for each race. I feel I am starting the year at a better level and I hope to improve throughout the season and make a bid for the outright. My bike is strong and we have a vision to improve more from here with some small adjustments.”
While the young Australian, who is 22 in June, is keen to secure his second title, Cervantes will be out to put the brakes on his challenge and has the experience and intention to be his main challenger. Cervantes: “After fighting for the world title the last year and finishing second, this year it is my goal to return and win the world title. I’ve had a difficult winter because of the injury to my shoulder and a few days ago, also problems with my leg, but little by little I’m picking up the pace and I will try to push as much as possible to achieve my goal.” Cervantes did add that it would not be easy to start the season not in the best physical condition, but he still plans to take the challenge to Phillips and this should guarantee some top contests in E3. Both Cervantes and Phillips are riding the KTM 300 EXC.
KTM Enduro Factory team Boss Fabio Farioli is also upbeat about the team’s prospects for 2015. “I’m happy with how the riders are feeling at the moment. Regarding the small class E1, Nambotin is happier than ever. For E2 we can say Meo is back. His speed is very good and also his physical condition. He likes the bike a lot and has a better feeling for it than last year. He’s also been unbeatable in the first Italian national races so we’ll see how he’s going to perform. We have two good riders in E3. Our Australian is really talented but we’ll have to wait to see if his winter preparation at home has been enough for him to have a good start to the season. On the other hand, Cervantes, our top Spanish rider starts the season with some injury problems. But in any case they are both working hard to fight for the victory and I am sure they can do it.”
Farioli also confirmed that Taddy Blazusiak of Poland, KTM’s multiple SuperEnduro and AMA EnduroCross World Champion would compete in (yet to be decided) selected rounds of the World Championship this season. Blazusiak, coming off yet another championship-winning SuperEnduro season has decided to race in Europe-based events in 2015. The Red Bull athlete also plans to compete in some of the classic Extreme Enduro events.
Apart from the opening round in Chile, the 2015 Enduro World Championship calendar is rather compact and Europe-based. Rounds 2-3 are on the Iberian Peninsular, followed by Greece and Italy, followed by a race weekend in Belgium before the summer break. The season again winds up with the finale in France.